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GUEST OPINION Building a better future for your business with apps

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As more and more small businesses decide to investigate the mobile market, Paul Sanders, technical director at Apps4, discusses the key points to consider when building a successful app on a budget.

It’s been suggested that by 2021, the British public is likely to spend as much as £18 billion through their mobile handsets. As increasing numbers of consumers choose to access the internet via smartphones and tablet devices, it’s inevitable that businesses will have to change the way they connect with their customers by offering content which is optimised to work on such handsets.

So, what’s the big deal about apps?

Apps provide a fantastic new revenue opportunity for those retailers willing to grasp it. They enable companies to proactively drive business, making them a valuable alternative to more traditional, passive advertising and marketing methods.

A good starting point for a business looking to build an app is to define what exactly it wants to achieve from it. It’s all well and good creating a fantastically designed programme that looks great, but an app will be completely pointless if no results are achieved from its construction.

Businesses need to evaluate their requirements and build an app accordingly. Are they looking to proactively encourage footfall into a bricks and mortar premises? Are they hoping to learn more about their customers’ preferences and shopping habits? Or, do they want to build on brand loyalty?

Considerations

It’s important for businesses to understand the issues that may arise when creating an app. Research has revealed that one in four apps are used only once, and that 95 per cent of free apps are deleted after 30 days, with only five per cent being retained.

With this in mind it’s important to consider the paths that can be taken to improve an app’s success rate.

Content

It’s simple: killer content is key. If your app doesn’t include those all-important, attention-grabbing functionalities, any effort put to design or marketing will be a waste. To be blunt, if the content is poor, the app will fail.

In terms of content, it’s also important to make sure your app’s functions meet the objectives that have been set. If, for example, a business wishes to increase purchasing behaviour, app content must incentivise users and build on customer loyalty. This can be achieved via voucher functions or loyalty schemes run through the app.



Technology updates

Decisions around technology development are also crucial when considering an app. The ever-expanding mobile market spans across many platforms, so businesses need to create apps that support all systems, from Apple and Android to Windows. It’s worth noting that multiplatform apps have a greater reach than their single platform counterparts, thus maximising the number of customers able to access your app.

A smart business will also develop an app that is easily expandable. Mobile technology is constantly changing and software can soon become stale and outdated. An app that can evolve with the times will increase the likelihood of its success and deliver better results, longer-term. The road from initial idea to fully-functioning app is often a long one, so, it’s no wonder that many businesses don’t actually plan for activity once the app is launched to the market! An app that can’t react to customer demand will fail. Therefore, time must be allocated to evaluating the app’s post-launch success and amending as necessary.

Let’s face it, in business, ROI is king, so making sure the groundwork is put in, both pre and post-build, will drastically improve the success of your business’ app.

Paul Sanders is the co-founder and technical director at Apps4, a specialist app development company. The business recently launched a new service designed to help independent businesses on tight budgets create their own ‘off-the-shelf’ app for £250.

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